WASHINGTON — Scott Gottlieb, M.D., commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, on March 5 notified Alex Azar, secretary of health and human services, that he will resign from the agency he has led since May 2017.
The White House said it did not seek Dr. Gottlieb’s resignation, and regretted his decision. President Donald Trump tweeted, “Scott Gottlieb, who has done an absolutely terrific job as Commissioner of the F.D.A., plans to leave government service sometime next month. Scott has helped us to lower drug prices, get a record number of generic drugs approved and onto the market, and so many other things. He and his talents will be greatly missed.”
Mr. Azar said of Dr. Gottlieb, “He has been an exemplary leader, aggressive advocate for American patients, and passionate promoter of innovation…”
As commissioner of the F.D.A., Dr. Gottlieb has overseen the agency that has the primary responsibility for ensuring the safety of drugs, medical devices and most foods sold or distributed in the United States. He was widely known for efforts to regulate the tobacco and e-cigarette industries and sought to tighten controls on youth access to such products.
On the food front, Dr. Gottlieb has furthered the implementation of food safety objectives of the Food Safety Modernization Act. Just in the last few weeks, he announced the issuance of a guidance to industry on how to comply with its responsibility to warn the public as needed during a food recall, and more recently published a document reviewing the F.D.A.’s strategy for ensuring the safety of imported food. On the day of his resignation, the F.D.A. issued its latest installment of its intentional adulteration of food draft guidance.
Food industry associations appreciated Dr. Gottlieb’s openness to discussion, even when views differed.
Geoff Freeman, president and chief executive officer of the Grocery Manufacturers Association, commented, “Under the leadership of Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, the Food and Drug Administration was a strong and effective champion of public health. His candor, transparency and willingness to work together was a welcomed approach in the regulatory environment.”
Robb MacKie, president and c.e.o. of the American Bakers Association, called Dr. Gottlieb a “productive, approachable leader.”
“He and his team had a good working relationship with the baking industry and broader Food and Beverage Issue Alliance that A.B.A. co-chairs,” he said. “We commend the effective work that F.D.A. accomplished during his tenure to build and complete F.S.M.A. regulatory framework. However, A.B.A. had a significant difference in opinion on some of the nutrition related policy outcomes. Specifically, A.B.A. is disappointed that his departure will likely delay pending petition decisions and additional guidance on critical open issues surrounding fiber. A.B.A. looks forward to engaging with the next commissioner on our core F.D.A. food safety and nutrition issues.”